Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Realism Art exhibition - Hermitage Museum - St. Petersburg

Hermitage museum was founded by Catherine the Great of Russian Empire in 1764. It is one of the oldest museums in the world. It was opened to the public view by Tsars since 1852. After the revolution Soviet Authorities were careful to preserve over 3 million artefacts.

During the second world war Hermitage Museum was hit by German bombs. The main building was damaged heavily. During the  blockade by the Germans most valued artefacts were removed to different safe places.   After the war Hermitage building was restored to the former glory.

We went to Hermitage museum  to see creations  of famous artists like Picasso, Monet etc. I will post those pictures in my next blog post. What we unexpectedly visited was the exhibition called "Realism" showed in General Staff Building.

I remember during the time of the  soviet union everyone talked about Socialist Realism in art. However most of the socialist artworks, films ended up singing hosannas to socialist system of governance and to Soviet communist party. Heavy debate raged in countries with socialist traditions to follow such a rigid worldview. Therefore it was quite interesting see such a theme again in Russia.

This is  the part of the introduction:

"Why is realism such a relevant topic today? The realisms Project at the hermitage is an attempt to answer that question. The project is based on a multilateral conversation about the form and idealogy of realism, which encompasses the entire permanent display in the General Staff Building, where the collection of nineteenth to twenty-first-century art is housed since 2015.

Rich in terminology, the twentieth century knew many "Realisms": Hyper-, Sur-,Photo-,Social, magical Realism and many more. Since the end of the century, the realistic trend has been making itself felt and arousing greater interest. the original foundation of the realist approach - the search for reality - is a simple creative method which is aimed at self-knowledge. From a narrative art in the Old master's paintings, realism today has developed into a technically and psychologically complex system of references which deals with a subjectivist view of the objective world.

Perceptions of reality change and depend on the current personal and social priorities. Now this has become relevant once again. Art absorbs such changes and produces a different image of reality every time. the works of contemporary artists represented at the exhibition offer their own references. Each of them, nevertheless, is a clear blueprint of existential experience of the time, with a potential for metaphors, allusions, codes, symbolic meanings and cultural associations.

The Hyperrealist sculpture F*ck'd(Couple) (Gary Tatinstian Collection , USA) by the American artist Tony Matelli uses a technically innovative method to imitate the visceral poignancy and touching nature of the sensual reality."

The other two artists contributing the exhibition are American Artist Jim Shaw and British Painter Mitch Griffiths. British artist's works are closest to the paradigm of classic realism.
21st century boy by Mitch Griffiths

A work featured in one of Griffiths' earliest solo exhibitions, this sharply satirical piece explores how modern society worships wealth, status and fame. The crown of credit cards may symbolise the narcissistic pseudo-values which dominate in today's society of mock kings and false idols.

Gorgon - Mitch Griffiths

A direct reference to Caravaggio's painting of Medusa, the Gorgon queen who, according to Greek mythology petrified those who gazed upon her. However, Griffith's Gorgon is so saturated with oil that her eyes are sealed shut and her power curbed, calling into question the human cost of commercial and industrial interests and demonization of those who stand in the way of industrial 'progress'

"There have always been two schools of thought in painting: That of the idealists and that of Realists. "-Theophile Gautier

Weight of Panic - Mitch Griffiths
They Love me, They Love me Not - Mitch Griffiths United Kingdom

Picture above and below questions the body worship through exercise regimes and obsession with weight.  Next picture shows a man obsessed with his body and women with her face while woman standing next to her lost one of her breast from cancer.
Drone - Mitch Griffiths
"Exploring the commercialisation and glamorisation of armed warfare in certain media outlets which borrow their imagery from computer games, the very title of this work is direct reference to a particular type of pilotless aircraft or missile.  It represents the contemporary disconnect between the zombified viewer and the real horrors of war. The sexualised female soldier and the smartphone tied to her gun underscores the unreal nature of this image. "

Bridge of Genes - Mitch Griffiths
"This painting communicates the historical ties between fathers and sons. A reference to the popular trope in renaissance painting wherein each figure clasps the tools of their trade, falling leaves appear to capture the passing of time through generations, both dividing and bringing together the parent and child."
Triptych First Person Shooter - Call of Duty -  Mitch Griffiths

Modern Warfare - Mitch Griffiths

Finest Hour - Mitch Griffiths 
"The title of this Triptych alludes to a type of video game in which a shooter must move towards their goal by killing everyone in their way.  The artist depicts a British Soldier who is displayed to take part in international conflict and where  every day faces moral choice between following his duty and committing a crime."

The things they carried - Mitch Griffiths - Amid a backdrop of smoke and destruction, a soldier is hauling away a young refugee women who has been forced to flee her homeland. Perhaps a reference to the contemporary devastation of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, this work evokes the tragic fate of displacement as well as the image of a 'savior of culture' and his inevitable historical role.

"Thouh the objects themselves may be painful to see, we delight to view the most realistic representations of them in art - the forms, for example, of the lowest animals of dead bodies. The explanation is to be found in a further fact: to be learning something is the greatest of pleasures, not only to the philosopher, but also to the rest of the humanity, however small our capacity for it. The reason of the delight in seeing the picture is that one is at the same time learning - gathering the meaning of things.".- .Aristotle
Closet - Ilya and Emiliya Kabakov
Complete exhibition is in my facebook page and in Google+. If you copy please make sure you mention artist's names and place of the exhibition.

Links to the exhibition information 
About Mitch Griffin

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The last one standing

We were in St Petersburg last week. iT's amazing. We met this Russian lady called  Irina who showed us where our apartment is. Allowed to use her mobile and also accompanied us to the apartment. We just asked her help us to find the place. That's all. We did not know her before.
We realised people in St petersburg is amazingly kind and helpful. Wow . This is not I was reading in media in England. Certainly did not expect that.
Ah well, when we called Irina next day she came over and showed us Aleksandrovsky Summer Garden  and Mikhailovsky palace. 

I wanted to see any Lenin statues survived or not. I heard one is in Ploshad Ilicha i.e Ilicha Square. Ilich is Lenin's second name.  So I went there and found the Lenin's statue. he is alone standing proud, looking at river Neva. All his revolutionary friends statues were removed long ago.

When I went to several churches rebuilt by Russians after 1991 I found Romanov's burial sites. Romanovs are the last rulers from Russian Empire. Bolsheviks killed them.  They could have spared their lives and deport them to another country perhaps. Now they have own shrines in Russia. Russian aristocracy used church burial grounds and even inside the churches to bury their loved ones.  Vladimir Putin is killing 2 birds from one stone. Royalist are happy that he allowed Royalists,Dukes, Lords and ladies to have their burial grounds and pompous lifestyle returned to them.  Communists are happy that Putin allowed to remain Lenin statues and other communist memorabilia.  Religiosniks are happy that he allowed to rebuilt all the churches destroyed during the socialist era.  They are at each other's throats but Puting is there friend. Machiavellian politics of Putin is wining the day. 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Attack on Democracy- From the British Labour Party

We were waiting it for so  long. Finally it arrived. The chilcot inquiry report. I watched with some sort of schadenfreude how Jeremy Corbyn tore into Blair Project. That horrible decision to invade Iraq on such a flimsy ground created a mayhem in Iraq and so  many people lost lives.  It's an illegal war. Whatever Saddam was doing he was not an immediate threat to UK's security. We don't forget Saddam killed many kurdish nationals using chemical weapons. But there were other ways to tackle that.

Tony Blair could have waited, get UN approval and get world on his side before unilaterally supporting US. British soldiers lost their lives to an an illegal war. Their heroism and commitment to the country is invaluable. But the this failed political project put their honour in line. That is unforgivable. Jeremy Corbyn in a rally in 2013 denounced the plan to invade Iraq. Around 2 million people walked in london protesting it.

Now the very same labour party is in turmoil again. They engineered a coup against their Leader Jeremy Corbyn.  Around 172 members of the parliamentary labour party does not want him as a leader. British people voted to leave the European union but that is not Corbyn's fault. Yes, it is true that most labour heartlands voted for brexit. But it is hardly the Corbyn's fault. They were voting against Cameron. They were voting against austerity measures imposed by the David Cameron's government .

Whenever a capitalist government facing a  deepening economic crisis they would whip up nationalism. In western Europe this nationalism turn to petty racism against immigrants. They would say Immigrants are responsible for all the mishaps.  In fact it is the immigrant population driving the economy up in most suburban areas.

The reason why Angela Merkel want immigrants in her country is obvious. Germany does not have enough workforce. They have more people in pension age than young woking population. 

Now the British labour party apparatchiks seemingly ignore this economic situation and the failures of the conservative government. Their inability to understand the labour members wishes, harming the party.

Angela Eagle already dropped out from the race. Now Owen Smith trying to portray the members he is the better choice. If you are radical as Jeremy Corbyn what's wrong with supporting Jeremy?

Labour party executive committee created a strange rule to stop Labour party members who signed recently from voting. They have to pay extra £25 within 2 days to register.  Otherwise they don't have vote.

They are saying these people are either trotskyists or from other small parties. May be. However in that case these so called trotskyites must be from very large parties with huge membership. Do we know any trotskyite party like that with thousands of members?

Labour party apparatchiks actually behaving like Old Soviet communist party apparatchiks. They don't want to listen their members. Actually they are afraid of members.  Do we ever heard of this type of comedy before?
 British media in unison are unleashing propaganda against Jeremy Corbyn. Why? Is Jeremy Corbyn the real threat to the establishment, who for years mislead the people together with the very same unscrupulous Media? 

Friday, 1 July 2016

Chilcot Inquiry and the 172 Back Stabbers

I was surprised when Bremain aka remain campaigners had Tony Blair as a supporter. Tony Blair is a Europhile. We all know that. After all Europe supported his ambitions. Most European leaders had reservations about American President Bush and his Iraqi campaign, but they still  tolerated it for greater good. Supposedly to keep European unity as well. So Blair is in indebt to them.

However Jeremy Corbyn is not on the same boat. He did not support the Iraqi war.  But most of the 172 labour MPs who want to oust him supported the Iraq war.
Does anyone remember the brave six  Red Caps massacred  in Iraq? They did not have any military backup. Most of the British Troops were pulled out from Iraq after the war. Therefor their death is due to bad military planning and weak political leadership. Blair or Bush had no plans to set up a proper government structure and security   for Iraqi people. What followed was a blood-bath of ordinary iraqis by various extremist groups.

Tony Blair and those who supported the war are in for Judgement day.

We all know that Chilcot inquiry will come out on 6th of July 2016.

Now it seems to me all those Labour MPs are in line to get a great shock. In that case Jeremy Corbyn has an easy chance to present a case against them to Labour Members to de-select them. In my opinion they want to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn before that. So they are pushing for his resignation. Most of the print media, BBC, Web media are behind this campaign cunningly. Is  anyone out there finding them?

BBC shows only the clip that Cameron who is responsible for this disastrous referendum telling Corbyn to go. Not the Corbyn's reply.

All the other web sites and newspapers are no better.

This conspiracy is nothing to do with Brexit Vote. Most labour members voted for Brexit because they had real concerns about immigration. They had concerns about welfare cuts, job losses. Jeremy Corbyn admitted that much. But he also mentioned workers rights, maternity leave, paternity leave and all other laws and regulation we managed to establish thanks to EU. So he was 7 out of 10 for EU. That's a principled and honest stand from him than the most e liars we saw on Brexit campaign bus.

They promised £50 Million for NHS and later retrait, that because of the single market . To stay in a single market a country has to allow the free movement. Also we have to pay at least 177 million pounds as in Norway if such an arrangement to be agreed.

I hope sincerely country can get-out from this mess.  But not at the expense of a single honest politician I noticed in british political stage. Corbyn.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Brexit or Brit-IN - Leave or Remain Debate

It looks like immigration is the biggest problem British people are complaining about. The problem exaggerated by the recent immigration due to Syrian war. British people are afraid that most of the immigrants eventually will end up in UK.  Given the situation and behaviour of French officials I can't blame them. They are normally turn the blind eye to refugees in Calais.

On the other hand people who emigrated to Britain half a century ago are blaming recent EU immigrants for job loses, house shortages and school places. That's also true.  Bangladeshi and Indian curry houses complain that recent changes to the law means it cost them more to bring chefs and other specific personnel from the relevant Asian countries. Minimum wage should be around 30,000 pounds to invite anyone with work permit and they say  they cannot afford to pay that much. They claim that they are forced to close their businesses. They want the laws to change specifically again for immigration purpose, so they can get cheap labour from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Most care home workers in UK are from African origin and from Asian countries. Prior to recent European migration most of the unskilled jobs in hospitals, hotels and catering industries were done by Asian and african migrants.

European migration from Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, kosovo  and other countries changed that. There were job losses among minority communities. These minority communities more or less concentrated in big cities.  Therefore earlier migrants from Asian and African countries want to support Brexit. They want their jobs back.

Then we have UKIP supporters, Nazi Pegida supporters and English Defence League supporters  who want to stop immigration altogether. They want to claim country back for white Majority.   I.e they don't like any migrants and that will include Asian and African migrants.  What they don't know is, as a result of the 2011 census the White British population was estimated 51,736,290 (81.9% of the UK total population). UK is a white majority country any way.

That's the hilarious situation here. These groups want to support  the Brexit for completely opposite reasons.

Then we have Boris Johnson and conservative right who want Britain to leave EU to claim back country's lost sovereignty allegedly.   I am sympathetic somewhat to their claim as Euro bureaucrats are not a very popular bunch these days. There are quite a few blunders committed by them and they are ignorant to the criticism.  For example roughly €114 million is spent every year to move the European Parliament between its Brussels and Strasbourg seats every month, according to a new assessment by the European Court of Auditors. It says here For decades, the European Parliament has been on the road once a month. "Between 3,000 and 4,000 people, among them roughly 800 MEPs, their assistants, employees and interpreters move 400 kilometres from Brussels to Strasbourg. Their workspaces are empty for 317 days per year."

Then there is accusation that Britain pays 350 million per week. Now that figure is wrong. Britain's actual payment is around £250 million.  Here are the figures.  UK's net contribution is £8.5 billion.  That is because of the rebate as well. Uk get 4.5 billion back from EU from Total Contribution of 12.9 Billion.

Another side who want Britain to leave Europe is Russia. Russians know very well that European ambition to admit  Ukraine and Moldova to Eu would be in disarray if Britain leaves.

 Germany's Angela Merkel's soft touch for Syrian and other refugees and her dealing with Turkish President Erdogan does not go down well with British public. There are worries that Merkel may do a backhanded deal to give millions of Turks free visas to enter Europe and Britain would be flooded.

I actually think there are problems but European migration is not bad for Britain. I can see that places like Walthamstow, Edmonton in London got a really good makeover after migrant numbers swelled. Businesses were booming. Most of the EU migrants are actually working rather than claiming benefits. Here are EU migrant numbers.

If UK political leaders can reduce EU bureaucracy and unnecessary spending, if they can avoid creating a European Bureaucratic state I don't see any good reason to leave.  To guide EU to better democratic institution UK should be in not OUT.

A reply I received from my wife Ines who is German national living in UK.

Just some thoughts From Ines:

1. This shows how the UK is protecting human rights of people who flee the war!

2. EU expansion since the 90s has filled job places or created more jobs - but also increased the average salary of Uk citizen :
If all European workforce will leave  - commonwealth workers will have to fill the places of qualified nurses, doctors, care staff!

3. Every EU country can interpreted the immigration laws to their own needs:
Germany introduced a new law - to allow immigrants from Syria to settle in places where population is at very low level - no overcrowding and housing issues in bid towns anymore, also integration and language courses are a must and any criminal offences leads to extradition - its up to the UK government to deal with their own issues!!!

4. English people are the least informed about EU (LSE Study) and media uses fear and anger instead of knowledge to convince people  - racially prejudices has risen steadily since 2001 and it will destroy this society!!!

Which other lies do you need to convince you of your right choice??
There is an ongoing argument about whether the UK government should launch an information campaign about the European Union before the in/out referendum on EU membership.

The findings come as political leaders struggle to deal with the rise of the UK Independence party, which campaigned on an anti-immigrant, anti-EU platform and has ...

Friday, 27 May 2016

First Teacher's song

Your film was very impressive and I was very touched by the way you translated the simplicity of the life in Kazakhstan to the scenes in Nepal using Sri Lankan actors. I believe you have chosen the right people to represent the main parts and you touched upon everything what is important in life   - dejection, sadness, aggression, friendship, hope, love and using a wonderful scenery as a background. 

Although I felt that you tried to show the feeling of love between the two characters not as one which is develops out of admiration but instead as a love at first sight. Maybe this is the Sri Lankan way?!

I liked also the scene at the station when everyone understands that he reciprocates her love by letting her go   her own way and giving her the opportunity to live a fulfilled and self determined live. 
What I was missing though was the wonderful book ending to show the reconciliation with faith, when she, a successful lady, returned to the village and avoids shyly her first teacher and love - but decides to write the story and poignantly states her will to reconcile. (not only with her first love but also to apologize for taking credit - where credit was due to the ones who earned it - namely him - (I believe this could be an example to politicians and other people in Sri Lanka when they take credit for things accomplished by others.

I also felt that your character of the girl at 15  seemed to be portrait as a frail, vulnerable and weak  (overwhelming sobbing - which for me spoiled the last 20 min of the film) but in the book she is a much stronger willed girl, who was eager to learn and looking for her own freedom . Assuming that your  target audience consists of a mixture of young and old Sri Lankan people  - the character of the girl could have been a perfect example  for Sir Lankan women to overcome the male dominated society and to be able to find their own way in life!

I wish in your next movie you choose a story as beautiful as this one but also that you could bring about a modern context to it regarding relatable  issues among the people in the modern society (including Sri Lanka). Looking forward to your next movie!

I loved the way you used instead of the unfinished painting an unfinished piece of music script as a frame for the story - what a brilliant idea!

Ines baumann

(This is review about the Sinhala film Guru Githaya)

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Man who knew Infinity - A film about a mathematician

The brilliant performance by Jeremy Iron (who previously starred in the films 'Lolita' and 'Dead Ringers') and Dev Patel ('Slumdog Millionaire' and 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel') as Dr Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan in the film 'The Man Who Knew Infinity' delighted our whole family. I went to watch the film with my wife and daughters. One of my daughters is very artistic and other one is really good at maths. They both loved the film. I believe the film is very artistic, sensitive, very emotive and at the same time it gives you an idea about mystery of the mathematical world and mathematicians.

 I love maths and one of my other heroes of Indian origin is Dr Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who found the Chandrasekhar limit (related to stars).
 Ramanujan's story fascinated me earlier on, perhaps because I did that Astrophysics course in Queens Mary. 'He could have gone on and solved the puzzles about 'Black Holes'' they said. 'How?' I asked.

On his deathbed, he mentioned 'theta functions' in a letter to Dr Hardy. Theta functions are supposed to be super -symmetric. Oh, I know, when we talk about supersymmetry, etc. something else comes to mind: 'string theory'.

A team of mathematicians later proved that theta functions indeed mimicked modular forms. They also found out that  expansion of mock modular forms helps physicists compute the entropy, or level of disorder, of black holes. Had Ramanujan lived to see that day, he would have added more functions.

He did not have any formal degree, but his brilliant mind produced amazing formulas of pure mathematics. One cannot call him anything other than a born genius. He thought Hindu goddess 'Namagiri' gave these formulas to him as her divine thoughts.

Ramanujan faced lot of hardship in India; he did not have a job in his earlier years. With his young wife and mother depending on him, Ramanujan needed the money to survive. He then found a job as a tax clerk. There was another clerk like that who also invented special theory of relativity later. But that genius, who turned out to be famous Albert Einstein, was more lucky than Ramanujan, because he lived in Europe.

After reading a letter Ramanujan sent to him, Dr Hardy invited Ramanujan to Cambridge, in England. Many of Dr Hardy's colleagues were against the idea. When Ramanujan was in England, he was not treated well. Racism arose, and there were many incidents due to Ramanujan's origins, but Dr Hardy and his friend Dr Littlewood trusted Ramanujan and his abilities. Dr Hardy pushed Ramanujan to produce the necessary proofs to his mathematical formulas and functions so he could publish them. Dr Hardy and Ramanujan were not similar in character and they did not share the same cultural background. Ramanujan was also a strict vegetarian and this led to the difficulty that he did not have enough nutritional food while World War 1 was raging across Europe.

Yet this beautiful friendship with the renowned professor and self-taught genius blossomed, therefore helping the future of mathematics immensely. For example, there is the Ramanujan - Sato series, Ramanujan's PI formulas,  Continued Fraction and mock theta functions, to name a few. It is an interesting fellowship - Dr Hardy was an atheist while Ramanujan, a devout Hindu, thought his God spoke to him through his formulas. 

His brahmin origins prevented him going overseas for his further studies at first. Finally, his mother relented and with his wife's blessing as well, he set sail to England. His religious upbringing played a big part in his later life in England; it caused him to live more like a hermit, working hard on his amazing mathematical formulas.

He did not have good food during the First World War, as was previously mentioned. He did not ask much help from Dr Hardy, hiding his needs and his pain of not living with his beautiful, loving wife. His mother, on the other hand, hid letters meant for Ramanujan from her daughter-in-law. Ramanujan was soon diagnosed with tuberculosis and treated in England, but never recovered fully.

In his final days, Ramanujan was accepted as a 'Fellow of the Royal Society' (FRS), the second Indian to do so, and finally as a Fellow of the Trinity College. His work was stolen in Cambridge and he was harassed a lot, but he ignored those mishaps as a true gentleman.

He returned to his wife and mother, and within a year he died, leaving his young wife a widow. He was only 32 years old. I think England and Cambridge did not take care of him properly. His work on fractions was stolen and it was found by someone else in Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1976.
These are now on Display at Cambridge.

The film does not reveal all of these incidents, but it does do a certain justice to this brilliant mathematical genius.

1.  http://www.businessinsider.com/researchers-unlock-formula-mathematician-srinivasa-ramanujan-2012-12?IR=T
2. http://www.britannica.com/biography/Srinivasa-Ramanujan
3. http://ajitvadakayil.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/fractal-mind-of-srinivasa-ramanujan.html
3. Picture from: http://www.famousscientists.org/srinivasa-ramanujan/

Sunday, 13 September 2015

I had Syrian friends.

I had Syrian  friends when I studied in Soviet Union.  They were not refugees. They lived under Hasad Senior Hafez Al Asad. They could travel anywhere. Their women can drive cars and hold driving licenses. (Do you know a country that does not allow that ,  by any chance?) They could study including women (unlike Afghanistan I may say). Education was free (Including university education) . Muslims - Shia and Sunni, Christians of several denominations , some hindus lived side by side. No troubles. And then  his son came to power and nothing much changed. They had little bit of oil and some wealth. And some from the west  called him a dictator - Bashar Assad. He did not allow fundamentalists to take over the country.

Someone intervened we know who? Now Country is a mess and Syrian refugees are everywhere. There could well be terrorists among them we don't know. But before anyone posting any rubbish,  blame the people who created the crisis in the first place.

Assad may be a dictator. But we have seen worse.  Why we could not allow Syrian people to change their leader other  than impose it on them by some powerful country?

Friday, 14 August 2015

Sky Engineer didn't turn up but Skyteam seems to blame me for it - This is now solved and I am a happy Sky Customer

I was waiting on the 13th of August 2015 for Sky Engineer to arrive to install Sky broadband and telephone line for Sky talk.  Earlier this month I changed from Virgin TV to  Sky TV and I am quite happy with that. Then I decided to move my broadband and landline to sky as well.
I went online and made the order. Sky asked online that whether I wanted to keep my old number. I confirmed I would like my old number. Then I got a call I suppose from Virgin retention team. They offered several deals.  They said Sky would not be able to give me the same landline number. It's sky dirty tactics to get their (Virgin Media) clients. "They cannot give our telephone number and these numbers are ours etc etc" . I said "No,  I signed up online and it says clearly that I can retain my number".  She did not agree and said their Internet speeds are better. I said to her "Look I know Virgin has faster service. But in this instance I would want to switch." One of the reasons are that I tried to connect my wi-fi connection to Sky Box. I could not do that. I asked Sky and they said it is virgin hub blocking the wifi. I called Virgin and they said "No it is not them". After few phone calls and Sky Engineer came and fixed it. After all its Virgin Firewall blocked the connection.

 I came early from my holiday to Germany to be with Sky Engineer on the 13th instead of my Family who are still holidaying in Germany. I took half day off from my holiday allocation from my office.  I was sitting in front part of the house watching television and occasionally going to the kitchen to make a cup of tea from 12.50 pm to 6.00pm. We have an open plan in our house so we can notice if anyone comes to the front of the house.
On Tuesday 11th of August, Wednesday 12th of August and Thursday 13th of August I got calls from an unrecognised number. It was 08005979843. They called and then disconnected the line without saying anything. I said  "Hello" few times and  line was quiet. I searched the number googling it and found out lot of people complained about this cold calling. They supposed to be from Sky but asking dubious questions like credit or debit card numbers etc. Therefore I decided they are not really sky.
While waiting for the sky engineer around 16.09 pm I got a call from the same number. 08005979843. This time a male operator asked me how I am. I said I am ok. "How is the sky services?" he said. I asked him "Are you from Sky?" He says "I think you are not happy today sir" I asked again "Are you really from sky". Then he disconnected the line.
I had three text messages from Sky from Wednesday the 12th of August to Thursday the 13th morning informing me of impending Sky Engineers visit.

However, Nobody visited my property. Then I called Sky customer service. First sky operator moved me to different department supposed to be dealing with my installation. After 20mins wait, a women operator said "Hello" and then line went dead.
Tried again. Waited for 10 minutes and the sky operator connected me successfully to another team. I think I talked to someone called Chris. What he said to me was strange. He said, "Engineer visited my property around 5.30pm. He left a note. He (Engineer) allegedly noted that customer is angry that engineer cannot give the existing number and insisted having the old number. So he left."
I am shocked. I told the operator that is a white lie. No sky engineer visited my property. I was there all the time. Operator get annoyed. He said, "Sir, I am telling you in English".  Then said sternly "The Engineer came to your property and left". I told him "I am telling you in English no sky Engineer visited my property. I took half a day holiday and waited and waited."  Then he said, "You can set it up this yourself". Then I explained to him after disconnecting Virgin connection few weeks back something happened to our BT line. Three weeks ago, the BT line snapped into two pieces and one-half hanging from our wall. I have no idea how that happened. I told this operator Chris that," I called Sky and inquired with them. Then your sky operator told me Sky Engineer could fix the line as well. Therefore,  I can't set broad band connection myself. ". Operator then said he will try to reschedule and will come back to me. I said I need it Friday or during this weekend. I need my internet connection. He never called back.
Then around 8.00 pm, I get a strange call from 08000561044. Someone mumbled some gibberish and line went dead.  When I called back the same number and heard a recorded message. "This is sky. Someone from our department trying to call you but unable to do so". Why they do that. Call and cut off the line.

Thursday the 14th of August I got another message from sky. It said, "Phone engineer was not able to access your property to install your new phone line. Please call 03448222017 to make a new appointment. ". I called the number. I talked to a helpful operator called Ross Kelly. I explained the situation. He said someone from openReach left a note saying I was not at home. I replied to him this is a lie. No one turned up. I need someone to come today or weekend or at least Monday to install the service. He said he would call me back around 2-3 hours' time. He never called back.
Meanwhile, I logged into my Sky account and found out they reschedule another appointment for my house on 26th of August. This is too late. I am a blogger and I need my internet connections. I help few websites as well.
Exasperated from my ordeal I called Sky Again. This time 0332 number from my account. Call as redirected to another department and I talked to an operator called Alex. I said unless they can reschedule the installation to earlier date I have to cancel the order.  He said I am complaining that engineer is lying but I did not answer the sky call. I told him Sky Engineer never called. Those 0800 numbers are Legal and General on behalf of sky and they cut the line as soon as I said hello.  Then Alex said he would cancel all My TV and Sky Broadband as he cannot cancel only broadband and talktalk order. Another lie. I said, I took TV package earlier and I want that package. But ,I need my Internet connection and I can't wait until 26th of August. If sky can sell packages differently, he can cancel only that order. After that, he said he would do it. The reason I cancelled the order is I wanted to do it again online this time perhaps order Sky Fibre. I thought I don't need BT line if I order sky fibre,
 Out of curiosity I called 0344822 2017 number again. I wanted to find this elusive Ross Kelly. This time around remote sky operator (That's how she identified herself) told me someone will call me between 3.00pm to 4.00pm. Like in "24".
I called sky again Saturday the 15th of August. I talked to an operator called Liam. Yet again, I explained everything and told him I need to move to Sky Fibre. He said I still need BT line.  Interestingly he said Alex or Alexander informed me that appointment date scheduled for 26th but they could have come earlier. I still wanted to cancel the order. I told Liam that, it is not true again. Ross Kelly told me that but Ross never called back to confirm.  Liam said he would call around 5.00 pm. He never did. Then I got a call from 08005979843"Legal and General on behalf of Sky" number. This time around a female operator asked me how I am and if I am free to talk. She said she is from Sky. I told her I am driving. Then she said she would call back. Up to now no one did.

Cost of the calls to Sky is around £20 now.

I ended up having no internet connection now.

ref: Picture from Broadband-blog.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Kobeningrad

I was reading news past few weeks and more and more drawn to the conflict and war in and around Kobane. Upto this far Islamic  fighters of ISIl had somewhat an easy ride. They attack some minority groups and won their lands. They have also said to be trading with captured female prisoners.
One of the minorities are Yazidis.

We were told by media that they (Islamic fighters)  have hunted the Yazidis people down and killed many. Captured Yazidi females to be sold or already have done so.

But Kobane is different. Kurdish population in this city started to fight back.  They did not gave up easily. They are fighting for their women and children. They are fighting for their livelihoods. Their city.  Most of all they are fighting for their freedom.

This reminds me of NaZi germany's troops approaching Stalingrad. The epic battle for Stalingrad claimed 2 million lives and after five months, one week and three days later Red Army of Soviet union won.

Battle for stalingrad fought in street corners, from the rooftops, from abasements, and face to face. There are films about this battle. For the Red Army and people for Stalingrad nowhere else to go. Order was not to  leave the stalingrad. Stayed they did.
Stalingrad's embattled, hungry but  heroic soldiers:

What's happening in Kobane is in much simpler scale. Although as Nazis ISIS fighters have better weapons and more man power. They are trained. Most kurdish fighters are guerilla fighters with small weapons.  But we can see men and women fighting side by side with elders. It's heartening to see they are giving their all to stop the menacing advance. World waited and waited. Finally US and allies decided to aid their effort with air strikes.

Now I think battle is raging in street corners. Air strikes may not help much but psychological advance given to the ground resistance is enormous.

I hope for their children, for their womenfolk and for their city Kobane would not fall. So that they survived to tell the story of mini Stalingrad. The kobaningard.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Which hell are you going to end up?

I Was talking , rather arguing with four friends (Colleagues)  about religion. One is following Jehovah's witness, other one is a muslim, third one is a Catholic and fourth one is from some new age Christian sect. Each one claims their religion is the true one,  although catholic, Jehovah's witness and Christian New Age followers supposed to follow one god. The Jehovah's witness friend said his religion follows Bible to the letter and follows truest word of the god. Muslim friend disagreed and said his religion is the most truest and correct version as Christians changed stuff. Well Catholic guy believes he has the proper God and God mother etc. New Age Christian believes they are more open , don't do bad things, not aggressive, very high on morals etc. He in fact asked me where I get my morals. It seems he thinks I don't have any. I am the crappy , no morals etc upto no good atheist so I did not bother to go and teach morals to him.

Then I asked them this question. Just one. I asked the Jehovah's witness friend that, " do  they believe that if anyone don't follow his religion he/she would end up in hell.? Well he confirmed that yes they believe that way. So I told him weather according to his religion all other 4 colleagues (Catholic, Christian, Muslim and  I who is one time Buddhist but now half Buddhist) will end up in hell, in which he reluctantly agreed.

 I asked the same question from the Muslim friend. As a true believer he told us that all four other non believers will end up in hell by the grace of god. However I reminded him that he himself will be in Jehovah's witness friends hell.

Unfortunately for us our catholic friend confirmed that according to his religion / faith except him all other 4 people present will be in Catholic hell as we all are "non-believers".

I have to say our new age christian friend is bit more liberal. He was trying hard to explain perhaps hell is not that bad. It may be this earth, a bad place etc bla bla. But we will be in that hell nonetheless when we die.
Well some part of the world some Buddhists also believe others go to hell if you are a non believer and also commit some or other this and that sins.

Now think about this, after all of us die:

A buddhist, atheist, muslim, new age christian, Jehovah's witness guy will end up in ---------> Catholic hell.
An atheist, buddhist, New Age Christian, Catholic, Jehovah's witness guy will end up in ---------> Muslim hell.
An atheist, muslim, new age christian, Catholic, Jehovah's witness guy will end up in ---------> Buddhist hell.
An atheist, muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, Jehovah's witness guy will end up in ---------> new Age Christian's modified hell.

An atheist, muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, New Age Christian will end up in ---------> Jehovah's witness hell.

And also all of them believed they would go to heaven following their respective religious heavens that is.

So Muslim heaven is Buddhist, Catholic, Jehovah's witness, Christian hell. Catholic heaven is  muslim, Buddhist,  Jehovah's witness, Christian hell.
 Jehovah's witness heaven is everyone else's hell. etc etc.

All of us somehow end up in each others hell except if you are an atheist.

If you are an atheist:
A muslim, new age christian, Catholic, Buddhist will end up in ---------> no where as atheist's don't care about hells. We don't care where you guys will end up anyway.

What I can say: Choose wisely.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Laclau's Floating signifier, Gamow Peak and Intensity of Struggles

I was reading an article written in Sinhala language regarding political struggles. Some of the main points of the article were based on Ernesto Laclau's' floating signifiers. What Laclau is saying here is this. He is using a picture shown below for this explanation. In here he was trying to present the notion of 'empty signifier' at its purest.

 He took Tsarism (Ts) as an an example for a regime which was oppressive and it was separated by a political frontier from the demands of most sectors of society (D1, D2, D3 ,D4• • • etc.). Each demand is different to all the others in it's  articularity. This particularity is shown in the above diagram by the lower semicircle in the representation of each of them.  However they are all united in their common opposition to the Tsarist oppressive regime.
Laclau claims, this in turn leads to one of the demands stepping in and becoming the signifier of the whole chain - a tendentially empty signifier. He says that the whole model depends on the presence of the dichotomic frontier: without this, the equivalential relation would collapse and the identity of each demand would be
exhausted in its differential particularity. However when  the oppressive regime itself becoming hegemonic then the dichotomic frontier, without disappearing,
becoming blurred i.e trying to interrupt the equivalential chain of the
popular camp by an alternative equivalential chain, in which some of the
popular demands are articulated to entirely different links .

 The same democratic demands receive the structural pressure of rival hegemonic projects in such a case. This generates an autonomy of the popular signifiers different from the earlier ones and its meaning is indeterminate between alternative equivalential frontiers It is no longer that the particularism
of the demand becomes self-sufficient and independent of any equivalential articulation. Laclau call signifiers whose meaning is 'suspended' in that way 'floating signifiers'. Their operation is shown here in this diagram.
I am directly quoting from Laclau here. "As we can see, D1 is submitted to the structural pressure of two antagonistic equivalential chains represented by the dotted lines: the horizontal corresponds to the popular camp opposing Tsarism, as in the first diagram. The diagonal, however, establishes an equivalential link between D' belonging to the popular camp, and two other demands that the latter would oppose as belonging to the camp of Tsarism. So we have two antagonistic ways of constituting the 'people' as a historical actor. The way in which the meaning of DI is going to be fixed will depend on the result of a hegemonic struggle. So the 'floating' dimension becomes most visible in periods of organic crisis, when the symbolic system needs to be radically recast. And, for that reason, that dimension has, as a necessary pattern, the unfixing of the relationship between the two semicircles in the representation of the demands: the upper semicircle is always the one that becomes autonomous in any floating, for it is in its equivalential virtualities that the representation of the (absent) fullness of society lies." - On populist Reason -Ernesto Laclau

Now what we can see is that even though Ernesto Laclau's approach here is correct for the struggles his diagrams do not consider the intensity of struggles. The struggles are not  the same if you consider the intensity of them. They have different intensities. They acted in different ways in different circumstances. Laclau takes example of Tsarism. If we consider the two definitive struggles from the same era, namely in 1905 and in 1917, each of these struggles has different intensities and one which managed better reached the turning point in 1917. (Please see the diagram below.)
Intensity of Struggles On X-Axis Time

In my opinion what is important is not that D1 is becoming floating signifier. Laclau's idea that floating signifier D1's meaning is going to be fixed by the result of a hegemonic struggle is to be understood differently. As the struggle intensifies the leading forces would act differently. There will be obvious two antagonistic forces will be evident. 

If we consider the evolution of the very early universe, primordial nucleosynthesis, star formation or planetary formation, evolutionary history of life we can see the chaotic way it works. We can find the formulas and mathematical equations to explain all these events, transactions, creations but the very fact is that they just happens with different intensity and amid the chaos of things. We only know how to explain them.
If we take a look at what happens inside the stars and nucleosyntheis in stars we find these.
The point that interest me from the article above is this. The particle motion inside stars are very chaotic. They don't happen according to some god's plan or some other pre-determined fashion..  That's why we have to calculate Mean Free Path to find houd how these particles are interacting with each other.
"Mean Free Path- Identical particles travelling through a medium of targets travel different distances before interacting. The average distance they travel prior to reaction is called the mean free path l, and is a useful indicator of the condition of the target medium and the strength of the interaction. - Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis" 

The struggles are happening the same way. We cannot say where and when the struggles will start and what problem or demand would create the particular struggle. We all know that there is this dialectical nature of the struggle between classes. We can  approximate the times and what the percentage of the masses participating in each struggle.  They happen in different intensity and a political entity  which learned the best way to manage the intensity can take the struggle through the potential barrier. (Barrier penetration).

 Let's think about what happened with  Euro Maidan in Ukraine. It started as a small protest against Yanukovych regime. (I am not taking any side here. That's not the idea) . But it was managed so cleverly by the (perhaps US/EU funding, perhaps from the oligarchs which were on their side) money they have received they could mobilise forces outside their reach by any means, propaganda money etc. The media war was managed so cleverly by leading western press and opinion in Europe was swayed protesters way. The intensity of the struggle went up by day when the killing started the struggle was at it's peak.  That was the turning point. We all know what happened after that.

The leftists parties should not intervene in every struggles for democracy. There are certain struggles by the capitalist leaning social democratic parties that leftist parties cannot participate. They can certainly support certain issues to save the democratic freedom and  other struggles which address cost of living, student fees etc. A leftist party should select the struggles they should just participate as a voice of support and select the struggles that they can manage and control separately. They have to use their time and energy to increase the intensity of the struggle and direct it towards abolishing the capitalist system.
Therefore I think it is necessary for a party to have intelligence gathering and analysis unit purely to collect and analyse data on struggles happening in any particular country of their concern. Then they should advice politburo of the party to take necessary action. Through out any struggle this process should carry on and they should maintain the link between each struggles themselves and with the party. They would then easily recognise turning point of any major struggle.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Will New Russia is turning back to socialism? Victory Parade of 9th of May

The victory parade in Moscow on 9th of May is somewhat a chilling reminder of old soviet days. The parade comes after  the annexation of Crimea. Ok we all know what Nikita Khrushchev did. After all he is the man who took out his shoe in UN while addressing the general assembly. He handed Crimea to Ukraine and after Putin's annexation of Crimea back to Russia,  Russian National pride is all time high. However this parade was quite similar to the ones conducted in former USSR, which I used to watch since 1984. I was somewhat perplexed by this flag shown below behind the military vehicles.  It has hammer and sickle in it. And not only that. Flag on the left has CCCP printed on it, which is  USSR in russian.
 Most interesting thing is the words used by the generals and soldiers. The Commanding General addressed the soldiers as comrade soldiers. Then the soldiers replied to him calling him "thovarish genaral" in Russian meaning comrade general. Then the General reported to Defence minister the readiness of the troops to the possession.  He addressed the minister as comrade minister and minister replied to him addressing as comrade general. Most intriguing part is that the minister addressed the  president putin as comrade Vladimir Putin and not as his excellency the president. Then  putin addressed the soldiers as  comrade soldiers. Is this normal? Or is it that Russia is firmly heading back to Soviet system with some sort of a mixed capitalist system like in China. In that case this day will be a memorable one. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Quantum tunnelling and Gamow Energy

Quantum tunnelling:
Quantum tunnelling also known as the barrier penetration, is the key to the occurrence of fusion reactions in stars. If the particle's total energy is less than the potential energy of some barrier it cannot pass that barrier. Think about throwing a ball over a wall. Unless there is sufficient kinetic energy to attain a height greater than the wall, there is no way the ball will reach the other side. Kinetic energy of the ball, once transformed to gravitational potential energy should exceed the gravitational potential energy of the wall.
However this restriction does not apply to quantum mechanics. We have to consider the wave properties of the particle in quantum mechanics. The amplitude of particle's wave function goes to zero only for an infinitely high barrier although the wave function associated with a particle is attenuated by a potential barrier.

As we know that the finite potential barriers exist in reality, the wave function inside and beyond the barrier is non-zero. Hence the position probability density is also non-zero. (position probability density).  Therefore there is a small but non-zero probability that a particle will make its way through a barrier, in such a case and even though that may appear impenetrable or insurmountable in normal circumstances. If we think about the ball again, if a ball and the wall were small enough for quantum properties to dominate over the classical scenario, it would be possible for a ball to reach the other side. That is even if it did not have enough kinetic energy to overcome the gravitational potential energy at the wall's top. This seems strange but this is precisely what happens during collisions of nuclei.

For the nucleus to be stable, the nucleons in a nucleus sit in a potential well surrounded by a Coulomb potential barrier of finite height and width. There is a non-zero probability of a particle with energy less than the height of the barrier would make its way from outside the barrier to inside due to barrier penetration to reach the nucleus.

The Gamow energy
The  barrier potentials do vary with separation, i.e. V is a function of r. For the Coulomb barrier, the penetration probability may be expressed in terms of the particle energy E, and the Gamow energy EG which depends on the atomic number of the interacting nuclei, and hence the size of the Coulomb barrier:

Therefor Gamow Energy:

where α is the fine structure constant ≈ 1/137.0.  and and C is Speed of light.
The rate of nuclear fusion therefore depends on the penetration probability of the Coulomb barrier. This penetration probability in turn is described by its Gamow energy.
A higher EG reduces the probability that the barrier will be penetrated. The Gamow energy measures the strength of the Coulomb repulsion, which determines the height of the Coulomb barrier.

The Gamow energy is named for George Gamow (1904–1968), a Russian physicist and cosmologist who escaped to the USA in 1934. His paper ‘The origin of chemical elements’ (1948) by Alpher, Bethe & Gamow attempted to explain much of astrophysical nucleosynthesis in the big bang and also predicted the existence of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

The Gamow Peak: 
The fusion probability as a function of energy for nuclei.  The energy at which the fusion rate is a maximum is called the Gamow peak. The region on either side of the peak in which the fusion probability is significant is called the Gamow window.

Ref: Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis - Sean G Ryan, Andrew J Norton